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Now, on with the show...
Keep Your Friends Close...And Your Enemies Closer
TV Prompt: Sea Patrol - Friends Close, Enemies Closer
Erin Strauss grimaced as she felt the cool splash of a tear against her cheek. Weak bitch, she sneered to herself, brushing the tear away with one impatient hand as she stared at the city lights of DC in the distance from her perch on the roof of the Hoover building.
Death was inevitable. Even more so when you were a federal agent. The risk went with the job description. She'd always known it. But to have seen it happen to one so young...so promising. It was such an incredible waste. Especially since it had all been to save her.
Lifting her shaky hand to her lips, she inhaled deeply on the Marlboro Light between her fingertips. God, she needed that. True, she'd now destroyed a twenty year streak as a non-smoker to partake in a long forbidden habit, but after what she'd seen today, she'd earned it. Your soul is already black as tar, Erin...your lungs might as well match.
Nothing like having an inner voice that told the truth, was there?
"I thought I'd find you up here," a deep familiar voice commented neutrally behind her.
She didn't even have to turn around to know who had invaded her space. Shit. Not him. Not tonight. She might, and might was a strong word, be able to handle anyone else right now...but not him.
"Didn't you give those up?" he asked, frowning at the smoking cigarette between her bent fingers. "A woman your age really shouldn't be taking those kind of risks, should she?" he asked, reaching for the lit cigarette she held.
Jerking her hand out of his reach, Erin glared. "Go away, David. I doubt there's any insult left in your arsenal that you haven't already hurled at me at least once over the years. And, quite frankly, if I am forced to endure any of your usual crap, one of us is going over the edge of this roof," she said gravely, nodding at the ledge before turning her glare back in his direction.
Idly peering over the edge, Rossi raised an eyebrow. "That'd definitely smart." Leaning a hip negligently against the waist high wall bracketing the roof, Dave sighed. "I didn't come up here tonight to fight with you, Erin. I wanted to make sure that you were going to be all right," he said, watching as she took another long drag from the cigarette she held.
Coughing slightly, the frigid air and the smoke combining to angrily remind her lungs they weren't in their mid-twenties anymore, Erin shot Dave a look filled with pure skepticism. "Forgive me, if I don't immediately trust your noble motives, David. You hate me, remember?" she said mistrustfully, taking a half-step backwards as she propped her arm against the ledge.
"Hate is a strong word," Dave shrugged, pursing his lips as she took another drag. "You really don't need to be doing that, Erin," he remarked, frowning at the burning end of the cigarette.
"Oh, but David," Erin drawled as she blew out a puff of perfect smoke, "That's the story of my life, isn't it? Doing things I shouldn't. Damning the consequences..."
"It wasn't your fault," Dave said softly, moving a half step closer when she shivered slightly. "You don't even have a coat, Erin," he grumbled, unbuttoning his suit jacket.
"Temperature doesn't influence a cold-blooded reptile, David," Erin ground out, flicking her cigarette butt over the edge of the roof and lighting another in one smooth motion, no lost energy in the transfer. "We both know you think I'm a snake," she said, trying to control her chattering teeth by clamping the cigarette tightly between her teeth. "And maybe you were right all along."
"I prefer to think of you more as a cat, Erin," Dave muttered, wrapping his coat around her thin shoulders in spite of her attempts to shrug him away. "You always land on your feet."
"Yes," Erin agreed bitterly, inhaling deeply on the cigarette, closing her eyes as her lungs filled, "while good agents die in my place."
"That isn't the way I meant that," Dave countered as he winced, realizing how she'd interpreted his remark. "What I meant was..."
"David, please. Go. Away," Erin bit out, squeezing her eyes tightly closed as the events of the afternoon played out in her mind's eye once again, an endless loop of horror that she couldn't control. "I want to be alone."
"No," he said immediately, firmly, his denial hanging in the charged air between them.
"Why the hell not?" she barked, turning angrily to face him.
"So you can jump?" he grunted, looking pointedly over the roof. "Hell, no. If you're going out, Erin, it's because I finally threw your ass over the edge for something you deserve...not because you're consumed by guilt for something you had no control over."
"Man, Erin. He was a man. A man that was a federal agent assigned to your protective detail. He knew the risks when he signed up for the job," Dave stated grimly, barely resisting the urge to attempt to shake some sense into her traumatized brain. With his luck, though, he'd just managed to bruise the important parts and confuse her even further.
Lips tightening, Erin shook her head, his words simply that. Words. Anderson had been a young agent filled with amazing promise...right up until he'd stepped in front of that bullet. For her.
"He was a child," Erin hissed, refusing to acknowledge any of his sentiments. "Young enough to be my son..."
Dave shook his head gravely as her words trailed off. "You're personalizing it, Erin."
Eyes widening at his accusation, Erin turned violently away from him, pacing the length of the wall. "Isn't that rich?" she spat. "David Rossi is condemning me for acting human. Isn't that what you've been hoping I'd become for years, David?"
"Oh, hell," Dave blustered as he watched her stiff body begin to pace. Running an agitated hand through his dark hair, he deliberated how to reach the woman that had alternately infuriated and mesmerized him for a quarter of a century. "You were always human, Erin. I just don't always agree with what kind of human being you chose to be."
Pausing mid-pace, Erin turned to shoot Dave a scathing look over her shoulder. "You don't approve of my choices that I've made? You've sat in as judge and jury of me for twenty years, David. Tell me something I don't know."
"Something you don't know," Dave mused, crossing his arms over his chest as he made himself comfortable against the brick wall. "Okay, Erin. That pain you've got in your chest right now...that tightness...it isn't being caused by that cigarette smoking in your hand. That's your heart, babe. That thing that we all thought was long dead. Surprise, sweetheart! It wasn't."